Monday, August 31, 2009

#23 Dawn on the Coast

Dawn says she'll never
Move back to sunny CA.
Oh, the irony!


It's spring break, and Dawn is headed to California for a visit. She's pretty excited, since she'll be seeing Jeff for the first time since he moved back, and she's missed her little brother. The visit is filled with plenty of fun; the Schafers go to Disneyland, and Sunny Winslow surprises Dawn by introducing her to the We Love Kids Club. It's a more relaxed, "California" version of the BSC, and Dawn is pretty impressed at first. She even gets a job or two with some of her old clients. Between that, the sun, and the beach trips, Dawn starts to seriously think of moving back to California. She feels she fits in better there than in Connecticut, but the decision isn't exactly cut and dry for her. She makes a list of pros and cons, talks to her dad and Sunny, and eventually decides that she belongs in Connecticut after all. At least, for the next 40 books....

Thoughts and Things

  • Foreshadowing alert: Mr. Schafer suggests that Dawn bring all her friends out to CA for a visit. I'm surprised he didn't suggest they buy a lottery ticket to try and earn the money for the trip!
  • LOVE the Feldman/Newton/Perkins sitting chapter. I've always liked those Feldmans, and I wish they'd been in the series more often.
  • Heh...Jeff is stopped at the airport metal detector because he has a knife in his pocket. If that happened today, he'd probably be arrested.
  • Dawn wants to go to Jungleland when she, her dad, and Jeff go to Disneyland. The trouble is that there is no Jungleland, and there wasn't back when this book was written, either. I think AMM probably meant Adventureland.
  • It's funny how certain books lend themselves to short summaries, and some lend themselves to long summaries. This one was a snap.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#22 Jessi Ramsey, Pet-sitter

Why stare at the back
Of Jessi's knee, Jacques? Does it
Look like your dinner?


The Mancusis are going on vacation for a week, and they call the BSC looking for a pet sitter. Kristy pitches a fit at first; since she had a bad experience pet sitting, she doesn't want anyone else in the club to pet sit. Whatever, Kristy. Since Jessi's ballet school is closed that week, and the Braddocks (her regular, two-day-a-week clients) are on vacation, she volunteers to be the lucky zookeeper. What a zoo it is; the Mancusis have three dogs, five cats, birds, hamsters, two guinea pigs, a snake, some fish, some turtles and some rabbits.

In spite of feeling a little overwhelmed, Jessi does pretty well. She, Mary Anne, and the Perkins girls do manage to lose Barney the snake for a little while, bit thanks to Myriah's knowledge of the habits of cold-blooded animals, they find him pretty quickly. Jessi's only concern is about one of the hamsters. He's looking extra fat, and sleeps by himself, away from the others. By the end of her week with the Mancusis, Jessi figures that something must be wrong with the little guy, so she takes him to the vet. It turns out that the hamster is a she, not a he, and she's pregnant. The hamster ends up giving birth to 10 babies. One goes to the Ramseys (Misty), one goes to the Pikes (Frodo), and one goes to Jackie Rodowsky (don't know that hamster's name because we never hear about it again).

In club news, Kristy's bossiness is out of control. First, she tries to prevent anyone in the club from taking the Mancusi job. Then, she makes this checklist that's supposed to help her keep track of who's read the club notebook and who hasn't. The other club members minus Jessi and Mallory (they don't want to be involved in club fights), call Kristy out on her bossiness. It's that combined with the fact that the other girls are all sick of some aspect of their club jobs that leads them to decide to hold new elections. In the end, though, they unanimously vote each other back into their old offices, and Kristy promises to try not to be so bossy.

Thoughts and Things

  • This book seems to get a lot of hate out in Fanworld, but I like it. I'm an animal lover, and I'd rather sit for a houseful of pets than a houseful of kids!

  • Kristy drove me crazy. What right did she have to put that stupid checklist up on CLAUDIA'S bulletin board, over CLAUDIA'S pictures of herself and Stacey? Thank goodness the other club members didn't let her get away with it.

  • If Jessi and Mallory really didn't want to risk anyone's anger by taking sides during this club fight, they should have just said so rather than hemming and hawing. That seemed to make the other club members even MORE frustrated with them.

  • Taking care of all those animals is an awfully big job for an 11 year old who has to be in school all day long, too. I guess it's not the same as it would be if Jessi was working an 8 hour job and taking care of the pets, but still. I'm surprised Jessi didn't get there one afternoon and find that Pooh Bear and torn the house apart.

  • Was it really appropriate for Jessi to let so many other people into the Mancusis' house to play with the pets? I don't think the Mancusis ever said she could invite people over...

I just wanted to thank everyone who's taken the time to read and respond to this blog. It's really flattering to know that people are getting some entertainment value out of it! I'm especially excited to see that some of the authors of my favorite blogs are reading and responding. Thanks, guys! Also, if you're out there lurking, feel free to comment. The more, the merrier!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

#21 Mallory and the Trouble with Twins

This cover would be
Better if Mal was wearing
A party hat, too.
Mallory has a steady sitting job with the Arnold twins twice a week for 8 weeks. Things go pretty well at first, but it all kind of falls apart when Mallory makes a comment about how cute the girls are in their identical outfits. Marilyn and Carolyn start giving Mal a lot of trouble. They take off their name bracelets (the only way that Mallory could tell them apart), they ignore her, and they spend most of Mallory's afternoons there speaking in their own personal secret language. At first, the club thinks that Mallory is the problem, and that the twins are probably okay kids. Then, Claudia sits for them and they give her just as much trouble as they'd been giving Mal. Actually, they give her more. Marilyn has a special piano lesson that day, but when her ride arrives at the house, Carolyn leaves instead. Claudia doesn't know the difference until the piano teacher calls, wondering where Marilyn is. Later, Mrs. Arnold has the nerve to blame Claudia for the mix-up. What exactly could she have done about it???

The next time Mallory sits for the twins, she decides to fight fire with fire. When the twins ask for a snack, she responds in pig Latin. She keeps it up until the twins are so frustrated that Mal finally gives in and offers to teach it to the girls, as long as they don't use their secret language around Mallory anymore. The twins agree, and they even show Mal how to tell them apart without the bracelets. It isn't until after the twins' birthday party that Mallory finally learns what caused things to go so wrong with the twins in the first place. Mal gave each girl a very different present (unlike everyone else who gave them each identical gifts), and Mal's gifts end up being the girls' favorites. The twins just want to be treated like individual people, not like two of the same person, and when Mal made her comment about how cute Marilyn and Carolyn were, they thought she would just lump them together like everyone else. Mal apologizes, the girls apologize, and they decide to talk to Mrs. Arnold about letting them dress differently and more to their own tastes.

The conversation with Mrs. Arnold goes well enough that Mallory decides to have a similar talk with her own parents. She's tired of looking like a baby and a freak (her words, not mine), and she wants pierced ears and a decent haircut. Her parents agree, provided she pay for half her haircut and all of the ear piercing. Jessi gets permission to get her ears done as well, and Claudia gets permission to get another hole put in one of hers. Kristy decides that the club should make a day of it, and the first group mall trip is born. :) While they're there, Dawn also decides to get her ears done. She gets two holes in each ear, because she is, after all, an individual. A few weeks later, Mal gets her hair cut, and she feels less like a baby. At least, until the next book where she complains about how she looks. ;)

Thoughts and Things

  • My favorite BSC books growing up were always the ones that involved mall trips, makeovers, and boyfriend stuff. Is it wrong that I liked those books more than the "Very Special Episode" books?
  • In the book, it says that Mal writes on the twins' birthday cake with pink frosting. So why is it blue on the cover? The girls' dresses aren't exactly like they're described, either. At least they got Mal's goofy expression right.
  • I can't believe that it took Mal so long to figure out that the Arnold twins got upset with her for not treating them like individuals. I mean, they were perfectly fine until she made her "you're so cute and you look like bookends" comment. Mallory isn't usually that dense about baby sitting stuff.
  • I KNOW I'm not the only one who wanted a moon-and-stars sweatshirt like the one Carolyn got during their post-birthday shopping trip!
  • I totally remember when pig Latin was a big deal.
  • At the very beginning of the book, Mallory is completely fascinated with the mall. I remember being like that when I was a kid, but once I grew up and could go whenever I wanted, it kind of stopped being that fascinating.

Monday, August 24, 2009

#20 Kristy and the Walking Disaster

Is the kid in green
Pants a boy or girl? I don't
Have a clue. Do you?

Kristy's siblings and some of the BSC's sitting charges are into softball. They'd like to play on a team, but most of them are either too young or too awful to join Little League. Kristy hears about a neighborhood team run by Bart Taylor, and goes to ask him about letting the kids join. The bad news is that Bart doesn't have room on his team for all the kids Kristy has in mind, but the good news is that Bart is hot stuff and Kristy has a crush!
After talking to Bart, Kristy decides to start her own team. At the first meeting, Jackie Rodowsky comes up with the team's name: Kristy's Krushers. Karen hates the spelling because it's not correct, but no one pays attention to her. :) Kristy finds out pretty quickly that she's got an uphill battle with her new team. She's got "klutzes" (David Michael), kids who are afraid of the ball (Jamie Newton), walking disasters (Jackie R., of course), and even a kid who's too young to understand the game (Gabbie Perkins). Meanwhile, things are also tense with Bart. Some of his players show up at a Krushers practice and make fun of Kristy's players. Kristy thinks that Bart let it happen. Even so, she ever-so-coincidentally walks Shannon by the Taylor's house one night, and meets Bart walking his own dog. They agree to hold a real game between their teams in the near future.
Game day arrives. The Krushers fight pretty hard, but end up losing to the Bashers 16-11. The day isn't a total loss, though: afterwards, Bart offers to walk Kristy home. He apologizes for his team's earlier teasing, and they talk a little about how competitive they both are. Bart also asks Kristy if she wants to hang out, and she's pretty excited. I guess Bart is a step up from Alan Gray in her book!

Thoughts and Things

  • This book should totally have been called Kristy and the Krushers. Jackie wasn't any more the focus of this book than he is in any of the others in which he makes an appearance.
  • Bart's dog is a Rottweiler....named Twinkle. Hee hee hee.
  • Speaking of, Rottweilers are big, but Bernese Mountain dogs are even bigger. A puppy Shannon's age shouldn't have been able to easily walk underneath Twinkle, like the book says she could.
  • Kristy is actually kind of mean to some of the Krushers in her narration. She repeated calls Jackie Rodowsky a walking disaster, and I think she even calls him hopeless at one point. She also refers to her own brother as a klutz, and to Jake Kuhn as a fatso. Geez, Kristy!
  • Normally, I'm not all that enthralled with the softball-related BSC books, but I really like the Krushers' team spirit in this one. They have every right to be proud about scoring 11 runs against the Bashers in their game!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

#19 Claudia and the Bad Joke

Claudia's broken,
Thanks to Betsy Sobak. Let
The joke war begin!
The BSC gets a call from the Sobaks, who they've never sat for. There's only one kid, 8-year-old Betsy, and Claudia is the lucky one who gets the job. She's nervous about it; other kids who used to sit for Betsy don't anymore, thanks to her penchant for playing practical jokes on them. Claud plays it cool and pretends she's not scared, but she is, and (as it turns out) with good reason. From the start of the job, Betsy does nothing but play jokes on Claud. First, she gives Claudia a drink in a fake glass that dribbles apple juice all over her hand-sequined white shirt. There's also a fake ice cube with a fly inside. Later, Betsy pulls the old trick gum gag (I don't think I would have taken anything edible from Betsy at this point, but whatever). The final trick comes when Claudia decides to take Betsy outside to keep her away from her stock of tricks and jokes. Betsy wants to swing, but what Claud doesn't know is that the swing that's assigned to her is broken. Betsy thinks that as soon as Claudia sits on it, it'll break, sending her onto the grass. That doesn't happen, so Betsy suggests a swinging contest. That's when the swing finally breaks, and sends Claudia flying through the air and onto the Sobak's driveway. The fall breaks her leg; Claud sends Betsy inside to call 911 as well as her parents, plus the Rodowskys. Mallory and Dawn are sitting for a group of kids there, and Claud wants to make sure Betsy is looked after. Dawn and Mallory end up beating the ambulance to the Sobaks, and Dawn gets to ride to the hospital with Claud while Mallory stays with the kids.
At the hospital, the doctors put Claudia to sleep while they set her leg. When she wakes up, her parents are there, and they have news. Her break was bad, so she'll be in the hospital for a week, and out of school even longer. It's not such an awful deal, other than the whole broken leg aspect of it; Claud gets plenty of visitors and presents, and even phone calls from Stacey in New York. She also has plenty of time to think about the accident, and Claud wonders what would have happened if she'd hurt her hands and couldn't draw or paint anymore. She starts to think that maybe sitting is too dangerous, and she should drop out of the club.
Meanwhile, there's sort of a joke-playing epidemic in Stoneybrook. The sitters are dealing with plenty of pranks, courtesy of their charges, including Betsy Sobak. Since Betsy doesn't seem to have learned her lesson after what happened to Claudia, the other sitters decide to teach her a lesson: they're going to turn the tables on her. The little jokes don't have much of an effect on Betsy; she just thinks they're funny. Kristy is the one that finally gets through to her, when she humiliates Betsy in front of some of her classmates at a movie theater.
After her successful prank on Betsy, Kristy asks Claud for her decision about the club. It's then that Claudia fully realizes that she'd miss kids too much if she gave up sitting, and decides to remain a member.
Thoughts and Things
  • This has to be one of the Claudia's most unattractive covers in the whole series. Her broken leg is freakishly long, and it looks like she's missing her second leg. Also, who are the other two on the cover? Are they supposed to be Mary Anne and Logan? If They actually look borderline age-appropriate, if not a little too young. That's a switch!
  • I'm not normally an advocate of stooping down to a kid's level, but I'm really glad the sitters "got" Betsy. She deserved it.
  • I can't quite believe that the Sobaks seemed to care so little about what their daughter did to Claudia, and that they had the audacity to call the club again. If I had a daughter and she'd pulled something like that, not only would I be mortified, but you better believe I'd be offering to contribute to Claudia's medical expenses. Then, when the kid was old enough, she'd be reimbursing me.
  • One of the movies that's playing at Stoneybrook's movie theater is Mary Poppins. AMM must love that movie or something, because it was also playing during book #6. Actually, I don't blame AMM; I like Mary Poppins, too. :)
  • The doctor that takes Claudia's cast off was a man. I didn't think they allowed male doctors in Stoneybrook, judging by the rest of the series!
  • Claudia gets an 81 on a math quiz and has to convince her family that 81 is a good score. For someone who isn't good at math, that is a good score! I know the Kishis want Claud to live up to her potential and all, but they really need to lay off sometimes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#18 Stacey's Mistake

The club sits for 10
Kids in N.Y.C. and they
Only lose one. Yay!


The adults in Stacey's neighborhood have decided to hold a meeting to discuss the apparently rampant homelessness in the area. Quite a few of them ask Stacey to watch their kids during the meeting, and she feels bad that she has to turn most of them down. That's when she gets her idea: she'll get the BSC to come up for the weekend to help out! The visit gets off to a rocky start, though. The Connecticut contingent of the BSC gets lost in Grand Central Station, and it takes Stacey 20 minutes to find them. When she does, Stacey realizes that they look like.....CONSPICUOUS TOURISTS. Mary Anne pulls out a guidebook, in spite of the fact that she has a native New Yorker right there, Claudia has a suitcase with wheels, Kristy is ewaring her famous collie baseball cap, Dawn looks terrified, and they're ALL being loud. After a quick stop at the Mc Gills' apartment to drop off luggage, the girls go to lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. They make a big fuss over how cool the place is, which embarrasses Stacey, and Kristy orders fill-it-mig-nun. They go to Bloomingdale's next, where Mary Anne gets chased down by mall security for taking eye shadow that she thought was a free sample.

After the shopping trip, the girls head back to Stacey's, where they make their way through her apartment building, meeting the kids they'll be taking care of the next day. Then, it's time to get ready for the BSC party. Mary Anne insists that everyone wear what Stacey tells them (so they can blend in with all the sophisitcated New York kids), but in the end, she herself is the only one who doesn't. Laine Cummings arrives early (looking 19) to help set up for the party, and she and Claudia definitely get off to a bad start. To be fair, Claudia started the snide comments. Laine seemed perfectly willing to be friendly, but as Stacey tells us, "Laine isn't one to ignore a snipe attack." The party itself is sort of a failure. The Connecticut and New York kids aren't mixing, except for Mary Anne. She first bugs the snot out of everyone by reciting her New York facts, and then entertains them by describing how terrified Dawn is of everything. Kristy manages to make a love connection with Stacey's friend Coby but Claudia cuts in on them when they're just about to enjoy a nice slow dance. By the end of the evening, Dawn is mad at Mary Anne, Kristy is mad at Claudia, Claudia hates Laine, and Laine decides to go home rather than spend the night. I don't blame her...

Stacey calls a truce for the next day, to get them trough the sitting job. They collect the ten kids midmorning, and head to the Natural History Museum. They lose Henry Walker, but find him pretty quickly; he'd just gone back to see the brontosaurus after the rest of the group had moved on. After lunch in the museum restaurant, they head to Central Park. It's there that Stacey has an epiphany of sorts; Claudia points out that Stacey has been acting like nothing in New York is exciting to her anymore, and that makes Stacey wonder if her embarrassement is more about her own snobbery than her friends; behavior.

Later that afternoon, Laine calls. She wants to try again with the BSC (especially Claudia), and invites them out to dinner and a Broadway show. The night ends up a success, and Laine and Claudia become friends. Well...sort of. They exchange addresses as the limo is dropping the sitters off at the end of the night. I don't know whether or not they actually kept in touch. The sitters leave the next day, after a breakfast of bagels with lox and cream cheese. That sounds really good right now...and I don't even like salmon!

Thoughts and Things

  • As of this book, Stacey didn't know about Jeff moving back to California. I know the pageant was going on at the same time, but you'd think that someone would have passed along that important bit of information!
  • I hate to admit it, but I felt for Stacey a little at the beginning of the book when the rest of the club was being all loud and dorky. I still get embarrassed in certain situations if the people I'm with are loud and dorky.
  • Grace Walker looks really cute on the cover. I'll ignore the fact that this scene never actually happened in the book. :)
  • There are department stores in CT. At least one of them must have a makeup counter; Mary Anne totally should have known not to take that eye shadow!
  • A 13-year-old who looks 19=jailbait!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#17 Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery

Mary Anne's cover
Outfit is ugly. Where's the
Famous cities skirt?


It's almost Halloween (the first of many for the BSC), and Mary Anne gets a chain letter in the mail. It orders her to send out 20 copies of the letter or risk bad luck not only for her, but also for her friends and family. She ignores the letter (as I probably would have done), and the bad stuff starts the next day. Mary Anne falls out of bed, spills juice on her white dress, temporarily loses her shoes, scares Tigger, and can't get her locker open when she gets to school. That's just what happens before lunchtime! During lunch, she spills a plate of macaroni and cheese in front of everyone, and when she stomps off to the library to spend lunch alone, she finds that her favorite book (Little Women) isn't on the shelf. That afternoon, she completely forgets a sitting job at the Newton's, until Mrs. Newton calls, wondering where she is. A couple of days later, she gets a little package in the mail. It's addressed not only to Mary Anne, but to Mary Anne and all the girls in the club. When they open the box at their next meeting, they find a necklace inside, with a note. The note warns the club to beware of evil forces, and tells Mary Anne to wear the "bad luck charm" - or else. Dun dun dun (scary music)! Mary Anne doesn't want to, but the other club members think she should. They've all had bad luck since the chain letter, too: Claudia flunked a spelling test, Dawn had a particularly accident-filled sitting job with Jackie Rodowsky, Jessi fell in ballet class, Kristy lost her watch, and even Stacey in New York broke her dad's favorite paperweight. Even though most of the club members didn't think anything of the chain letter at first, just about everyone is convinced at this point. They decide they need to ward off the bad luck with a good luck spell, which means a trip to the Stoneybrook Public Library. The girls each find a book on witchcraft, spells, etc. and take them back to Claudia's room for reasearch. The books are kind of a disappointment, though. Most of the spells either take too long or require stuff that the BSC would never be able to find (like ox tails).

It's Halloween Hop time again, and Mary Anne and Logan are going dressed as cats. As they're dancing, Cokie Mason (archenemy of the BSC ...this books marks her first appearance in the series) "complements" Mary Anne on her bad luck charm. Mary Anne doesn't think anything of it at the time. When she gets home, she finds a note taped to her door, ordering the whole BSC to appear at the cemetary (Old Hickory's grave, to be exact) the next night (Halloween) at midnight. Mary Anne calls the BSC the next morning, and they decide to go for it, though some members are convinced that they'll never get out alive. Rather than sneaking out of their houses so late, Kristy decides to throw a late slumber party as a cover. Mary Anne is on pins and needles the whole day, and her dad knows something's up. She doesn't tell him anything, of least, not directly. She asks him if he believes in bad luck, and then feeds him a story about buying her necklace at a junk store and then having a "friend" at school tell her that it's a bad luck charm. Her dad takes a closer look at the necklace, and tells Mary Anne that it's not bad luck at all. The mustard seed inside the glass charm is a symbol of faith. That gets Mary Anne thinking; since no one in the club ever talks to Cokie Mason, and since the necklace isn't really bad luck, why did Cokie call it a bad luck charm at the dance? Duh - she was behind the whole thing. Mary Anne gets back on the phone with Kristy, and they hatch a new plan to get back at Cokie and her friends.

That night, in the cemetary, the BSC rigs up a bunch of bedsheet ghosts, with a sound effects tape, some flashlights, and scary masks for effect. Cokie and her friends show up, and the BSC scares them good. They had also come to the graveyard with masks and sheets and stuff, and had planned to freak the BSC out in front of Logan. Instead, she shows up just in time to see Cokie's gang freak out. The BSC then adjourns to Kristy's house for their slumber party.

Thoughts and Things

  • Who in the world actually has a favorite paperweight???
  • I really like the way that Jessi helps Jamie Newton with his fear of Halloween. I never really thought much about Jessi either way when I was a kid, but now I think she kind of rocks. I'll cover that more in depth when I read my next Jessi book.
  • I'm really surprised at how soon in the series the timeline gets screwed up. We're still on our first pass through 8th grade, which started in book 10. It took 8 books to get to Halloween...that's a long time. I guess it's possible, if each previous book only covered a few days, but I don't think any of them did. At least four weeks passed in Claudia and the New Girl; that's how long Claud had to prepare for her art show. About two weeks passed in this book, and the girls must have had at least that long to prepare their pageant contestants in Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn. I'm guessing AMM saw how popular the series was going to be, but hadn't yet decided to just have the sitters repeat 8th grade. Hence, the dragging out of the first few months of the school year.
  • Daddy Stew=gross...but not as much as fried baloney.
  • Richard Spier listens to jazz at one point in the book. That's a nice bit of continuity; his love of jazz is also mentioned in #60. Then again, it could just be a fluke. :)
  • Nitpick: if the girls were in the cemetary at midnight on Halloween, it would technically be November 1st at that point.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

#16 Jessi's Secret Language

Jessi learns to sign
To talk to Matt Braddock. Does
He know she is black???


The BSC gets a call from the Braddocks, who've just moved to Stoneybrook. They need a sitter two days a week, indefinitely, for Haley and Matt. The catch? Matt's deaf, and the sitter needs to be willing to learn sign language. Jessi is the lucky winner, which should be pretty obvious considering who happens to be narrating this book. :) She meets with the Braddocks several times before actually being left alone with them. They're nice enough kids, but Haley is dealing with some typical jealousy/guilt for being jealous that comes with having a sibling who's different. Jessi actually does a really good job of talking to her and validating some of her feelings. She also goes a long way towards making the Braddock kids feel welcome in the neighborhood by showing the other kids how fun Matt's "secret language" can be.

When she's not sitting for the Braddocks, Jessi is getting ready to dance the lead in her ballet school's production of Coppelia. Since she's still fairly new in class, a few of the other students are giving her a hard time. Namely, Hilary (aka the "Dance School Phantom" from later in the series) and Katie Beth, who used to be Madame Noelle's favorites before Jessi joined. Things start to get better, though. At one point, both Hilary and Katie Beth compliment Jessi on her dancing in rehearsals. They do it grudgingly, but they do it nonetheless. :) Jessi and Katie Beth also bond when Jessi finds out that Katie Beth's sister is deaf, and Jessi doesn't subsequently freak out or anything like K.B. seems to think she will.

Finding out that Matt has never been to the theater gives Jessi an idea that borders on Kristy caliber: she wants to invite Matt's class of deaf children to her opening night performance of Coppelia. She works it out with Madame Noelle, Matt's school, and the Braddocks (Haley is there to narrate the story, and Mrs. Braddock is there to translate the narration into sign language). It's actually kind of a nice gesture...can't really be too cynical about it. :)

Thoughts and Things

  • I never actually owned this book as a kid, so it's one of the older ones in the series that still feels kind of "new."
  • Jessi has more discipline than any 11 year old I've ever met. She goes to a restaurant with an extensive dessert menu after her dance performance, admits that she wants ice cream, and has fruit instead??? I don't think I could do that. I'd be off ordering a sundae with Claudia. Speaking of, she had a butterscotch one, which was a nice bit of continuity. That's the same thing she had on the cruise ship in Baby-Sitters On Board!
  • The Ramseys are definitely my favorite BSC family. Is it wrong that I kind of wish that John Philip Ramsey, Sr., were my dad? ;)
  • During chapter 2, Jessi reassures us that Claudia's crazy outfits aren't revealing. Thanks, Jessi!
  • Does anyone remember the Sweet Valley Twins book where they did Coppelia? I think it was called Teacher's Pet. I didn't really get into Sweet Valley, but I do remember that one. Elizabeth got the lead role because she was Little Miss Favorite, not because she was the best dancer.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

#15 Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn

Competitions make
The BSC go crazy
Including this one!


Dawn is feeling kind of inferior. First, Kristy makes up this formal induction ceremony for Jessi and Mal, when all she got was a pizza toast. Then, Dr. Johanssen calls and specifically requests that Claudia sit for Charlotte. Charlotte only wants her because she misses Stacey, and Claudia is Stacey's best friend, but the other sitters start to feel like they're not good enough or something, because they weren't the ones chosen. When Mrs. Pike calls and asks Dawn to take on the task of getting Claire and Margo Pike ready for the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant, she jumps at the chance to prove what a great sitter she is.

It's uphill work, to say the least, especially when it comes to planning for the talent competition. Margo eventually decides to peel a banana with her feet and recite "The House that Jack Built" and Claire chooses to sing the Popeye the Sailor man song (not the real one...the one about him living in a garbage can and eating worms). Meanwhile, the other sitters have seized their own chances to prove their mettle. Kristy will be coaching Karen in the pageant, Mary Anne will be coaching Myriah (after all these years, I still had to look her name up in the book to spell it right), and Claudia will be coaching Charlotte Johanssen. Mallory and Jessi think pageants are sexist and stupid, and don't want anything to do with Little Miss Stoneybrook.

The pageant is held on a Saturday in the Stoneybrook High School auditorium. The talents portion goes well, although Claire almost freezes because of stage fright. Myriah tap dances and sings to "The Good Ship Lollipop," and is (of course) wonderful. Could one of the Perkinses be anything less? Karen Brewer sings "The Wheels on the Bus," and Charlotte is supposed to recite a passage from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," but runs offstage in tears instead. The only other contestant I need to mention is Sabrina Bouvier, aka Pageant Head. You know the type: lots of makeup, knows how to work the judges, etc. She sdoes a terrible rendition of "Moon River," which Dawn has apparently never heard of. Wait a old song from an old movie that the BSC isn't into? WOW. Anyway, everyone expects Myriah to win, since she was clearly the best contestant, but she gets first runner-up. The crown goes to Sabrina.

As we've seen in previous books, Jeff Schafer is unhappy in Stoneybrook. He finally gets permission to go and live with his dad, and Dawn has a hard time dealing, even though she and her mom know that it's probably the best thing for Jeff.

Thoughts and Things

  • During the question portion of the pageant, Calire is asked what she hopes for most. She replies that she hopes Santa Claus is real. I think that's a pretty creative answer. At least it's different than the world peace tripe that Dawn was trying to coach her into saying.
  • The day before the pageant is a Friday, and Dawn works with the Pike girls after school until heading home at 5:30 to see Jeff off. Did she get to miss the club meeting without getting a LOOK from Kristy?
  • I got really sick of all the "pageants are sexist" crap. I'm not really a fan of them or anything, but being in one doesn't necessarily mean that girls will grow up thinking that being pretty is all that matters like Mallory seems to think. Plenty of pageants offer scholarships as prizes, and plenty of contestants do charitable work or hold down careers.
  • Claire calls Dawn at the end of the book to ask for her help entering a Beautiful Child contest at Bellair's. One of the prizes for said contest is a supply or Turtlewax. What in the heck would a five year old do with freaking Turtlewax???
  • I'm not even going to discuss the Sabrina Bouvier Conundrum. It's already been done. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

SS #1 Baby Sitters On Board!

Mal thinks she's a spy.
At least she does not get caught
Until the ski lodge.

So we have our first Super Special...and our first hiccup in the publication order. This one definitely came out after #14, but Mallory isn't in the club yet, and there's no mention of Jessi. Stacey is still in Stoneybrook (the Mc Gill's Ping Pong table is mentioned, and that gets sold at the garage sale in #13), and the time of year that this is supposed to take place is unclear. The back of the book says it's summer, but what summer? The only summer that's happened so far is the one from book #6 through book #10, and the Pikes have definitely already been to Sea City (that's why they ask Mary Anne and Stacey to go with them on this little excursion). I suppose taking both trips in one summer is possible, but Sea City happened the first two weeks of August. Did they just turn around and leave on another trip right after? I've thought about this WAY too's the rundown of what happened in the book:

Mr. Pike won a contest at work, and the prize is an all expenses paid cruise through the Bahamas, plus three days in Disney World. Someone must have had a heart attack when they found out that Mr. Pike was the winner, and that they'd have to pay for ten people to go on the trip. Actually, make that 12 people, since Stacey and Mary Anne go along as mother's helpers. Watson hears about the trip and decides to take his family as well, along with Claudia and Dawn, since they just can't leave any club members behind. I wonder how the Kishi and Schafer parents felt about Watson paying for this. After all, the Kishis didn't want Mr. Schafer to pay for Claudia's plane ticket out to CA for his wedding later on. If I were a parent, I'd love it if my daughter's friend's rich dad wanted to take her on a fabulous vacation at no cost to me. If I had a daughter, that is. :) Here's what everyone was up to during the trip:

Kristy befriends an old man who's grieving the loss of his wife. It's actually a pretty sweet friendship, although I do think Kristy trying to fix up Mr. Staples with Nannie so soon after his wife's death is a little insensitive. When she's not hanging out with her new friend, Kristy is feuding with Dawn over the cleanliness of their ship cabin and hotel room in Florida. Dawn likes things neater than Kristy does, and Kristy dials up the sloppiness just to get to her.

Dawn gets to experience the very first Super Special romance! She (literally) runs into Parker Harris, her very own dream boy, at the beginning of the cruise. Back in the day, I thought Parker sounded pretty awesome myself, but now, I just think he's a jerk. He talks Dawn out of snorkeling (Something she wanted to do) and he has all these nasty things to say about his step family, who seem perfectly nice. Oh, well. At least Dawn wore a dibble outfit on their Disney World date: a white tank top under lavender overalls, lavender push-down socks, lavender high top sneakers, and a beaded Indian belt. There were bird clips, too. I totally wanted that entire outfit when I was younger! One interesting thing to note about Dawn: in her first chapter, she claims she's flown back and forth across the country 11 times, since both sets of grandparents live on the East Coast. First of all, would that mean that Jack Schafer grew up in the East? For some reason, I just can't see that. Second, wouldn't Dawn have been to Stoneybrook before moving there? I find it hard to believe that she'd come across the country to see her dad's parents, but not Granny and Pop Pop.

Mary Anne pretty much just sits for the Pike girls. She also develops a weird sort of friendship with Alexandra Carmody, a "sophisticated" compulsive liar who claims to be an orphan, a movie star, and the niece to a countess. As it turns out, she's really just the daughter of celebrities, and tells lies to get attention. I guess no one's perfect; at least Alex fills out her bikini top, as Mary Anne is so kind to inform us. :)

Mallory decides to play Harriet the Spy. She takes a lot of notes about the people she sees, and though she doesn't get caught, her observations do kind of make the sitters suspicious. Mallory is actually the one who finds out the truth about Alex Carmody's lies. I know a lot gets said in fandom about how silly is for Mallory to go off alone in a place like Disney World, but I can see where that might be fun. I went to Disneyland and California Adventure with my family last fall, and I definitely needed time away from them, just to walk around and shop. I wouldn't blame Mal for needing her space, even if spying wasn't her motive!

Karen uses contractions! Seriously; her chapters are actually legible for people who like grammar. Other than that, she gets a manicure in a beauty parlor and Coke in one of the ship's cafes when she's just supposed to be getting her earplugs for a swim. Kristy should never have sent her off alone, but I digress. :) Karen also becomes convinced that the ghost hologram that was projected into her carriage in the Haunted Mansion is following her around, but don't worry...he's friendly! Finally, she announces during a breakfast with Disney characters that it's her birthday, just so everyone will sing to her. That little episode makes me see why so many people hate Karen. Sheesh!

Claudia has a secret admirer. He keeps leaving her little notes and present, but he doesn't reveal himself. Partway through the cruise, as she's chasing him out of an ice cream parlor, she runs into a boy her age who introduces himself as Timothy. He claims to have seen Mr. Secrets run by, but Mr. Secrets is actually Timothy. He's outed at the parade on their last night in Disney World by his sister, the infamous Alex Carmody. It looks like lies run in that family. Also, Timothy mentions that their high school teams will be playing each other, and that they're destined to meet again. I smell a fan fic, for anyone who's good at that sort of thing!

Stacey meets and bonds with Marc Kubacki, a boy confined to a wheelchair because of a heart problem. He's due for major heart surgery not long after the trip ends, and his parents wanted to take him on it so they'd have something good to remember him by. Normally, I'm not into the sick or "special" kid storylines (I know, I'm horrible), but I really like this one and I've always thought it was well done. All's well that ends well, though; Stacey receives a card from the Kubackis after the trip is over, telling that Marc is fine and will eventually be totally healthy.

The Pike Boys and David Michael Thomas are obsessed with all things pirate. They find a piece of paper on a beach and convince themselves that it's a treasue map. They search all over the cruise ship and in Disney World, but they don't find a thing (except a bracelet that Dawn Schafer lost). It turns out that the paper was a Dutch copy machine diagram, not a treasure map.

What were Sam and Charlie doing during this trip? They're only mentioned in passing...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

#14 Hello, Mallory

Mallory Pike wears
Heart tights and a name jumper.
Alas! No sparkles.


Mallory is going to her first BSC meeting, and she's excited. Excited enough, in fact, to wear a jumper with her name on it and heart tights to school. The whole outift seems a little juvenile for a 6th grader who wants to seem mature enough to hang out with 8th graders, but whatever. Mallory tries to run into the girls before school that day so she can ever so casually talk to them, but it doesn't happen and she's almost late to class. When she gets there, surprise! There's a new girl in her homeroom. It's Jessi Ramsey, and Mallory is already hoping that they'll be besties forever. Not everyone is so excited to see Jessi, though. At lunch, Jessi is stuck eating by herself while other girls make fun of her. That would have been a really good time for Mal to go over and introduce herself, instead of just sitting there and listening to the gossip, especially if she wanted to be Jessi's best friend!

Later, it's time for meeting. Kristy lets Mal know in a notebook entry that she doesn't need to dress up, since no one else does. Mallory tries to impress the girls by telling them how she sat for 6 of her brothers and sisters by herself not long ago, when her parents were with Nicky in the emergency room. The sitters aren't impressed; they think Mal wasn't careful enough and that she should have prevented the accident. They're worried about hiring another irresponsible sitter, so they tell her that they'll only let her in the club if she takes a baby-sitting test, and goes on a trial sitting job with Claudia.

On the day of the test, Mal is so nervous that she leaves far earlier than she has to. Since she's got so much time, she decides to stop by Stacey's old house. Mary Anne told everyone at the last BSC meeting that a black family had moved in, and Mal wants to see if it's Jessi's. Sure enough, it is; Mal introduces herself to Jessi, Becca and Squirt, and she and Jessi bond over their shared love of horse stories until it's time for Mal to leave for the test. She finds all four girls in club headquarters, which makes her nervous all over again. The test is ridiculous; the questions are way beyond what a teenage (or almost teenage) baby-sitter would ever need to know, and Mallory ends up flunking.

Next up is Mallory's and Claudia's job with the Perkinses, and it doesn't go any better than the test did. Mallory manages to spill milk, drop a glass, offer the girls food to eat that they don't even have in the house, let Chewy inside even though she'd been told not to, and make Gabbie Perkins cry. It's not completely her fault, though; Claudia watches her like a hawk the whole time and makes her feel nervous and stupid. At the next club meeting, Claudia rates the sitting job three out of ten, and Kristy tells Mal that she can't join the club unless she passes another test. Mallory is having none of it, and stomps out, announcing that she's quitting. Too bad she wasn't officially a member yet...

The next day, Mallory is moping on the playground when she stumbles on Jessi, also moping. She tells Jessi about her problems with the BSC, and Jessi talks about the problems that she and her family are having with their neighbors. They decide to start their own baby sitting club, and go to Mal's after school for a planning session. They name the club Kids Incorporated (isn't that copywrighted or something?) and make up some fliers. They're a little concerned that no one will hire them because of their age (at least someone was), so they decide to sit together on every job. Their two for the price of one policy didn't exactly help them any; the only two jobs they get are for their own families. Meanwhile, the BSC still has more work than they know what to do with. They realize that they were unfair to Mallory, and they offer her another chance. Mallory won't go without Jessi, so the BSC agrees to give her a trial, too. Things go well, and the BSC now has 6 members. :)

Thoughts and Things

  • I'm pretty sure that I couldn't draw a picture of the digestive system from memory, and I've taken biology. I don't blame Mal for being thrown by that one!
  • I think I had heart tights when I was little....
  • Would it really have been that common in the late 80's for public school kids to be so against someone of another race? I find it hard to believe that kids would seriously have made fun of Jessi just because she's black.
  • The Pikes all have chestnut brown hair in this book...yet Mallory's hair is its familiar red on the cover.
  • This is the second cover in a row where Claudia looks really good. I can't help but wonder how old the models were, though.
  • In a departure from the BSC's typical pizza toasts, we get a Gummy Worm toast. Yum.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

#13 Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye

Stacey is moving
Back to New York, at least for
The next fifteen books.


The Mc Gills have some big news for Stacey: Ed's being transferred back to New York. and they're moving in about a month. Stacey's excited to get back to the city, but sad that she won't get to graduate from SMS with her friends. Actually, Stacey, you will. Just give it 12 or 13 years and about 150 more books!

Stacey calls Laine Cummings in New York to share the news (this was before Laine turned into a raging snob). Laine is thrilled that Stacey's coming back, but isn't sure that the rest of their old crowd will be. With that happy thought, Stacey then calls Claudia. There's crying, and Stacey ends up over at the Kishis so she and Claudia can talk things out. Claudia is really devastated; so much so that it surprises Stacey. That's when Claudia makes her confession: Stacey is the only best friend she's ever had. In true 13 year old fashion, they plot to keep Stacey in Stoneybrook through the end of the school year, but no dice.

In order to get rid of some of the junk that the Mc Gills have accumulated, Stacey volunteers to run a yeard sale with ther friends. Mrs. Mc Gill is thrilled to get the stuff out of the way with minimal effort on her part, and tells the girls that they can keep whatever money they earn. Thus, two birds are killed with one yard sale stone: the Mc Gills end up with less stuff to move, and the BSC members have a way to pay for Stacey's going-away party. The party itself is a surprise, and the guests consist of the BSC members and a boatload of the kids they sit for. They make a mural of Stoneybrook so Stacey won't forget them when she's in the city. Cute. :)

Stacey's departure leaves a hole in the club. They're busy enough that they need another sitter to take her place, and they decide to give Mallory Pike a try. The girls figure that Mal could be a sort of junior sitter, who took on afternoon jobs only. They even want to find another junior sitter, but arent' sure where to look. Ooh, ooh, I know! How about Stacey's old house???

Thoughts and Things

  • Am I the only one who doesn't think it's weird that Claudia's only had one best friend? I dont' actually know anyone who essentially had a new one every school year like Stacey.
  • Claudia looks good on the cover. She also looks about 19 years old. I think this is one of the first times that one of the girls look WAY older than 13 on the cover, at least until the new designs came out and the first coupel of books got completely new art.
  • I wonder where STtcey put the drippy, painted bedsheet/farewell banner. We never hear about it again. Somehow, I can't see Stacey hanging it up on the well of her swanky New York apartment.
  • Speaking of, Ed Mc Gill must make some serious money to afford a big New York City apartment without a second income from Maureen. I'm sure the city was cheaper back then than it is now, but still.
  • Lots of Jeff Schafer drama in this one. His move back to California was actually foreshadowed really well.
  • Howie Johnson is a jerk, according to Stacey and Claudia. I think he's kind of a non-entity.